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Newsletter Number 64 • May, 2010

Even though our physical bookstore is closed, we will continue to keep our website up and running. We will also continue our monthly newsletter.

Although we will continue to send this out free to our subscribers we would encourage annual subscriptions (suggested amount of $15.00 or $ 25.00). Since we are no longer selling books, this will help defray expenses for continuing our newsletter. To subscribe please use one of the 2 PayPal options below.

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May Newsletter

Maybe it is just chance, but also perhaps there is a deeper cosmic significance, but for whatever the reason may be, since we have started to close down the bookstore I have been in a “reading slump”.

A reading slump for me means that whatever books I had chosen to read did little to excite, educate, or provide me with enjoyment. As a result I began to read less and less. Finally I have read two books which returned to me the joys of reading, and which I want to highly recommend in this newsletter.

The first is a popular best-seller which has been highly promoted by the author on all sorts of shows both on the financial networks and shows of general interest. Of course, I could be talking about no other book than Michael Lewis’s The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

Lewis is probably my favorite non-fiction writers. Each of the books he wrote, which I have read, were books I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. Liar’s Poker, and Money Ball are considered by me to be great classics.

The Big Short is so outstanding that I think it ranks above anything else he has ever written. There has been so much written about the financial crisis that stemmed from the sub-prime fiasco that it seems almost hard to believe that a single book can be relatively brief, immensely entertaining, and still explain what really happened in a clear and unbiased manner.

Almost everyone I know who has read this book (myself included) has found it so difficult to put down that it was read within a day or two. It doesn’t matter if economics or financial markets are something you find interesting or really care about, almost everyone would enjoy this book and profit from reading it. The book has great characters telling their stories, and Lewis does an incredible job bringing the characters to life and allowing the story to flow of its own energy and destiny.

On a scale of one to ten, this is definitely a 10. If anyone has any curiosity and honest and open interest in getting to the bottom of the root causes of the financial fiasco and stock market melt-down that drove us into the deepest recession since the 1930’s then this is the book to read. As I have noted, it has the allure of a novel and beyond just playing “the blame game”, in the end, in the epilogue Lewis gets right down to what went wrong and how a repeat performance can be avoided.

I absolutely loved this book!!

Sometimes I read a book that that I think is so important that I wish I could just get everyone to read it. Staring with President Obama and all of our elected officials as well as potential candidates, and including all the doctors, lawyers, scientists, journalists, businessmen, and anyone else with an average IQ or better I think that if certain books were read by them our country and the whole world would be a better place.

That is exactly the way I feel about Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a way to get there from here), by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., and Steve Bhaerman. I can’t thank Tony enough for sending this book to me. On our website www.21stbooks.com , you can read my review of Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief, which is another book I most highly recommend.

While I do not agree with all of the conclusions and/or recommendations made in this book, I feel it is incredibly important for everyone to read it. The authors latch on to a very important concept and fully develop the implications and ramifications which naturally develop from it. The book makes it very clear that in the history of mankind on this planet certain basic philosophical questions have been at the core of mankind’s development. How these questions are answered result in a “paradigm” of how the world is viewed and how society develops.

As the authors correctly point out: “Inherent within all living organisms is an innate drive to survive, known by science as the biological imperative.”. That is a point with which I believe everyone must agree. However, for human beings we know that mere survival is not enough. We have other needs and societies have always wanted to know the answers to three questions:

1) How did we get here?
2) Why are we here?
3) Now that we are here, how do we make the best of it?

For the most part, today, in Western society the paradigm we use to answer these questions is based on “Scientific Materialism”. Scientific Materialists believe that we got here by “chance”. Random events created life, and random mutations of genes resulted in evolution.

The importance of this book is that it uses science itself and compiles compelling evidence that scientific materialism not only does not tell the whole story, but that in many obvious ways it is completely inaccurate. Therefore we need to accept a modern paradigm which accepts the fact that the human body is something different from a mere biochemical machine controlled by genes.

Unlike what the Scientific Materialists tell us, the Mind is not just an epiphenomenon resulting from the mechanical functioning of the body. The evidence for this conclusion is more than compelling. Whether you simply look at people who can “firewalk”, the abundant evidence of “the placebo effect” or religious believers who can swallow poison with no ill effects, the true and open minded scientist must necessarily reject “scientific materialism” to be an inadequate paradigm for life on this planet. The book has many more examples to prove this point and uses some of the classic discoveries of quantum mechanics to illustrate that the correct paradigm must include both mind and matter!

I could go on and on but I think I have given our readers the flavor of the book. Of course, it must be noted that the book is fun to read and easy to understand. I love books like this, where every few pages I have another “Aha” experience.

Moreover the book is very funny. Steve Bhaerman is also known as Swami Beyondanada, and his website is chock full of humor.

The book is quite brilliant. Whether or not you are a “scientific materialist” or not you owe it to yourself to be exposed to the paradigm-breaking facts and conclusions presented in this book.

Finally, I do not necessarily agree with all the conclusions in the book, concerning the nature of our society and where it is heading. However, I do think that anyone and everyone who reads this book is highly likely to come away from the experience as a better person and a happier and more fulfilled individual. To me that is a very compelling reason to read this book.

Len Oppenheim

Here is a book, I have yet to read but it sounds fascinating, so while the paper edition is just off the press... I have decided to include it in our current newsletter.
Autobiography of a Sadhu: A Journey into Mystic India (Paperback)
by Rampuri, author of Baba: Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi

The first insider account of an ancient and secretive tradition”

• By the first foreigner to become a member, and later an elder, of the Juna Akhara, the oldest and largest grouping of Naga Babas

• Filled with true accounts of magic, miracles, ghosts, and austerities

• With lessons on Hindu gods, ayurveda, and Indian culture woven throughout

After traveling at age 18 from his native California to India in 1969, Rampuri was drawn to the Naga Babas, an ancient and wild order of naked yogis whom he calls the “Hell’s Angels of Indian Spirituality.” Organized into a sect by Adi Shankara in the 5th century BC, the Naga Babas see themselves as the ultimate protectors of the Sanatan Dharma, or what we call the Hindu religion. Rampuri became a disciple of a Naga Baba--a master shaman sadhu--from Rajasthan and, as foretold by astrological prophecy, soon found himself the first foreigner to become an initiate of the Juna Akhara, the oldest and largest grouping of Naga Babas with more than 50,000 sadhu members.

From drinking the “Nectar of Immortality” at the source of the Ganges River to allegations of tantric murder, this autobiography is filled with true accounts of magic, miracles, ghosts, and austerities, with lessons on Hindu gods, ayurveda, mantra, and Indian culture woven throughout. Through his journey of extremes, Rampuri takes us into the mystic heart of India.”

We all need to connect.

Our connections to family and friends keep us healthy.

Our personal relationships are truly one of the joys of living.

But connection also brings fear, responsibility and in rare or maybe not so rare circumstances, connections can open up a Pandora’s box of terror.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author of Eat, Pray and Love) newest book: Committed : A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage deals with these fears.

If you read her best seller Eat Pray and Love you will remember her growing relationship with Felipe, the Brazilian businessman, and their vow to never get married. Both having experienced a Pandora’s box of terror with their last relationships.

Well we can temporarily deceive ourselves into thinking we have ultimate control over our choices, until the gods decide they need a good laugh.. … For what is a good play without lots of drama?

So Elizabeth and Felipe have to rethink this vow when Homeland Security (one of the greatest dramatic devices created by the gods) steps in.

Threatened with jail and permanent expulsion Felipe’s only recourse to ever enter the US again is to marry Elizabeth

With the anxiety of a future marriage looming, Ms Gilbert delves into the history and the many psychological facets of what the marriage union means and thus in the process creates this wonderful book.

I find it interesting that Eat, Pray and Love was inspired and brought into being because of Elizabeth Gilbert's divorce, and her current book is inspired and brought into being because of her upcoming marriage.

The book is written with her trademark wit and filled with exotic locations.

Reading Commited might be just the shove you need to take that final plunge into matrimony — or to steer clear of it all together.

I feel this book may appeal more to a woman than a man. But then again I enjoyed it so who knows.

 

Our utmost commitment is to express our inner divinity to the outside world, whether through art, love of family, writing or just a warm smile.

It is the sight we give to the divine

The divine experiences the outer world through our varied gifts. It is God’s way of shortening the distance between the relative and himself/herself. If the divine has any yearning whatsoever, it would seem to me that this can be the only probable one.

Expressing myself through writing has always been my personal bond to God, without this individual form of expression my reality would be more approximating a programmed automaton. Writng is the sight I give to God. It is my gift to the divine originator.

Of course it may be madness to feel that somehow my creative happiness contributes to God’s own. But then why did He create me?

Tony

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